What Is a Revenue Officer?

A revenue officer is an individual who collects revenues, such as taxes and duties, on behalf of the government or some agency. The specific duties of a revenue officer depend on the particular organization that employs the individual.

Key Takeaways

  • Revenue officers are responsible for collecting taxes and duties owed to a government or agency.
  • They should not be confused with IRS revenue agents, who are responsible for auditing taxpayers.
  • Some corporations will appoint a chief revenue office (CRO) to oversees the firm's ability to generate and collect revenues.

Responsibilities of a Revenue Officer

A revenue officer is generally employed by a government agency, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in Canada. State and local taxing agencies may also employ revenue officers.

With the IRS, for instance, the primary responsibility of revenue officers is collecting delinquent taxes and overdue tax returns from taxpayers. Their duties, therefore, include:

  • Conducting face-to-face interviews with taxpayers
  • Obtaining and analyzing financial information to ascertain the ability to pay the tax bill
  • Designing payment plans to help those with tax arrears pay them over time
  • Garnishing wages and seizing personal property to pay off delinquent taxes

A revenue officer with the IRS is also responsible for filing extensions on statutes of limitations for tax collection and initiating administrative and judicial actions. This position is often confused with that of a revenue agent, who is instead tasked with conducting audits of tax returns.

Unfortunately, many scammers claim to be IRS revenue officers and claim to have the ability to arrest the people they are trying to extort.

While they are government employees, the IRS revenue officer does not carry a firearm or have the authority to arrest a taxpayer. One of the primary duties of these individuals is to help to create a payment plan for collecting any unpaid taxes. The officer will attempt to make an unannounced, in-person visit with the delinquent taxpayer, known as a field audit.

Excise tax revenue officers in Canada, on the other hand, have more of an audit, advisory, and legal role.

Revenue Officers vs. Revenue Agents

 Revenue agents handle tax audits, whereas a revenue officer actually collects taxes. Revenue officers cover the more difficult tax cases. When the IRS has not been able to collect via letters, phone calls, tax levies, or garnishments, they send revenue officers. 

The role of a revenue agent is to determine tax liability via an audit. The audit that agents carry out is also known as an examination.

Revenue officers don’t generally have any accounting training. They do, however, have discretion on seizing and selling assets to cover tax liabilities, as well as lien discharges. They can also approve or reject installment plans.

IRS revenue officers carry two forms of official identification: a pocket commission and a standardized federal identity credential known as a HSPD-12 card.

Chief Revenue Officer (CRO)

Some organizations appoint a chief revenue officer (CRO) to oversee all revenue-generating functions of a business. They are also responsible for overseeing the strategy for profitable revenue generation over the company's long term.

A CRO’s purpose is to align and optimize the entire customer experience with the aim of increasing revenue. The CRO mostly reports to the chief financial officer (CFO).

The role of a CRO was born in Silicon Valley to capitalize on new revenue opportunities created by digital products and services, particularly the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry. CROs are typically data-driven and tech-savvy, which is essential given that they work in companies that employ a lot of people with product and engineering backgrounds.

Since the CRO is tasked with primary or shared responsibility for operations, sales, corporate development, marketing, pricing, and revenue management, functions that extend across multiple teams in most companies, a good CRO must maintain an excellent communication framework across the various organizational functions and share best practices among the revenue stream managers in order to maximize revenue production.